A week or so ago I decided to do something I haven’t done in years: weigh myself. Not having a set of scales was always a pretty reasonable excuse not to I thought. Then one day the belly-aching (literally) from any pair of trousers I tried to wrestle on convinced me I ought to check on the state of play so I bought a set of scales that could measure my BMI (Body Mass Index). To my horror I discovered that for my sex, height and age I was just 1lb (0.45kg) from being obese. For someone who has already been ‘blue lighted’ to hospital twice with heart problems in recent years this is not good news. Being told by my Doc that I have “sky high” cholesterol also made alarm bells ring. This blog is not about dieting and weight loss. It’s more about changing minds.
I guess I need to set a context. I’ve known my weight was not what it should be but pressures of life married with sheer darn self-indulgence made it easy to do nothing about it. I’ve been wanting change in all sorts or areas of life but always put off doing anything about them ‘until the weekend’. Somehow I thought something magical will happen on a weekend when I’m not at the beck and call of bosses, colleagues and clients that would enable me to be decisive and start to make a change. Thing is, weekends always burst through my front door like an overbearing Nanny assuring me that I was working too hard and needed a rest and some treats and, well, there was always next weekend to tackle stuff. Nothing makes the cold trudge to work on a rainy Monday as miserable as recalling that yet another weekend has been lost and there are 5 days at the beck and call of bosses, colleagues and clients to get through before the next weekend Nanny comes knocking. So in this context you might be able to see why when I did make the stand to do something, I looked for and found a radical plan of action that would give me quick results and I found it: The Cabbage Soup Diet. Yes I know, dieting’s fast-fix counter-weight to the Big Mac, both promising to achieve weight gain or weight loss as quick as each other. There are many rumours about it, not least where and how it originated and many split medical opinions of it. Yet it works.
I have tried this diet at least three times before now but never with the same attitude of mind I have now. Each time I have tried it, I’ve shed pounds almost instantly…and yes I have regained them again. It is easy to slip into old habits. Thing is this time I want to change my ways and I needed to see from the start that with a little discipline I could make a change to my drab routine pretty much straight away.
It’s a week or so since starting the diet and I have now completed it (it lasts for just 7 days). I have shed 7lbs in that time as the diet promises if you adhere to it. No physical exercise has been involved. I’m now at liberty to eat and drink whatever I like and another weekend Nanny is hovering over me but this time I know I wont.
When I undertook the diet this time it was more as a mental exercise than anything else. I needed the mental challenge and discipline of taking on a diet that contained so many of my ‘food hells’ (fans of TV’s Saturday Kitchen will know what I mean) – cabbage, carrots, bananas, fruit, skimmed milk. No alcohol, no carbonated drinks, no bread, no eggs, butter…no protein, fats or carbs at all for the first half of it…and needless to say no crisps, sweets or puddings. In terms of calorific intake, this diet provides close to starvation levels.
But I did it and 7lbs lighter and with all contents of the kitchen now available to me again, whenever I choose an in whatever quantity…what next? Well first off I know two things: most of this instant weight loss is attributed to water loss and is not lost body fat. Second..I am still a stone and a half higher than my ideal weight for my sex, Height and age.
Taking on the Cabbage Soup Diet is only a fast-results temporary success, but for me it acted as I needed it to act in being the kick-start to lifestyle change that I need. The direct impact on me has been…
- Looks like I do have some mental discipline and motivation after all.
- I’m no longer afraid of stepping on the weighing scales each day but will continue to do so to monitor what I am doing to my body, even if/when the scales start to climb. At least I will be informed of how I’m doing and have the choice to respond.
- I will not be able to lose the further stone and a half I need to by ‘Cabbage Souping’ my way down (and in fact you should never take on the diet for more than a week at a time). True and permanent weight loss will involve a combination of sensible eating and exercise but I’m now motivated to take that on.
- I’m far more likely now to reach for an apple or pear than a packet of crisps when I am peckish.
- If I can be this determined to make a change in this area of my life…what might I be able to do about other areas?
If any readers are interested in undertaking the diet, I have no recommended recipe for you. You will find plenty by searching online but all the variants I’ve seen still concentrate around the same core ingredients you will find in any given one. The diet is not as formidable as I have made out here but come on, for a guy who would prefer (or used to prefer) a take away, ready meal or Big Mac to fresh fruit and vegetables (not to mention lots of steak, chicken or fish – yum) then you will be wondering what the fuss is all about.
Myths, tips and stuff I’ve learnt…
First off, if in any way uncertain as to whether you want to undertake the diet, seek the advice of your doctor first. Obviously don’t try it if you are pregnant (you are meant to gain weight), if you are ill or are allergic to cabbage. Research first and compare favourable and non-favourable critiques (there are plenty of them)
- No, the soup is not just cabbage. Celery, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, onions, mushrooms, herbs and spices are all part of the mix.
- If you are cooking the soup from an American recipe and you mistakenly think that what they mean by ‘6 large green onions’ is our 6 large Spanish green onions when they actually mean 6 large Spring Onions…it doesn’t matter. I made my soup on that mistake so it was actually more an onion soup than a cabbage soup but the results in terms of weight loss were unaffected.
- The soup can be bland if you don’t spice it up. I used mild curry powder in mine with some Tabasco.
- It makes no difference to weight loss whether you decide to eat your soup still chunky or whether you blitz it in a food processor to drink.
- The soup is sometimes referred to as a ‘fat burning’ soup. It isn’t.
- During the times when you are encouraged to eat as much fruit and veg as you desire when you are not eating the soup, look up some ideas as to what you do to make the veg interesting. I was stumped.
- When the eating plan encourages you on certain days to eat as much of the soup as you can – do. More soup, more weight off.
- Yes you will pee more (part of the water loss thing) but you will notice your urine run clear in a few days meaning impurities are being washed out of you.
- If you are used to alcohol on a daily basis, you may encounter night sweats as your body cleanses itself of toxins on the first couple of nights.
- The diet is sometimes called the ‘Sacred Heart Diet’ after a hospital in the US thought to have invented it for patients needing chronic weight loss before open heart surgery. Myth.
- You may get headaches on the diet, feel light-headed toward Day 4 (before the protein elements of the diet kick in). Try not to fly a plane at this time or engage in salary negotiations with your Boss.
- Drink plenty of water. In you live in London, that will be the clear liquid stuff from taps that has passed through 7 other Londoners and been purified 7 times before it gets to you and you pass it on to the next.
- Think of the soup as your friend. Talk to it. Welcome it. LOVE it. Bollocks. Just get it down your neck and stop whining.
- Yes the soup will make you fart. Oh come on..you didn’t before? Just position yourself next to some random person, let it quietly go move quickly away and shout “Do you mind!!!!”
You could say this post is premature. One week on a crash diet and I’m probably still a little light headed. I do intend to stick with the plan to get my health back in order and do a follow up post some months down the line (or when/if I reach my weight loss goal).